The publisher seems keen to make us believe that this novel represents the emergence of a new John Le Carré or Graham Greene. Their copywriters should read a bit more Le Carré or Greene before making such comparisons, because they’re not doing Joakim Zander any favors. You won’t find in The Swimmer any of the philosophical subtexts you’d expect to encounter in a Greene “entertainment” and you certainly won’t find that slow-moving, intricately layered creepiness/paranoia that marks the best of Le Carré.
What you’ll find instead — and this is what The Swimmer should be lauded to the skies for — is a slam-bam, action-packed thriller that’s so beautifully put together (and so superbly translated, by Elizabeth Clark Wessel) that the book practically reads itself, with the sole task of the reader being to cling on by the fingernails. In this context you might not regard The Swimmer as great art, but you’d be wrong not to recognize it as great craft, and for the average reader — i.e., moi — that’s if anything Continue reading